Airplanes have a reputation of being among the most germ infested places. This is not exactly true, according to Danica Barron. Medical Services Director at ParaDocs Worldwide Inc, a collaboration of doctors and paramedics. Train and bus stations as well as public toilets are higher on the list. “However, if you are traveling via air this holiday season, you should definitely take precautions to avoid getting in contact with germs needlessly,” she says.
Germs circulate throughout the plane. You are in a cabin with people all sharing the same air which circulates around. Modern aircraft have recirculation systems, which recycle up to 50 percent of cabin air, with the remainder being fresh, outside air, Barron says. “This air is usually passed through HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, the same type used in hospitals.
But the risk is still there. Any disease-causing entity which is light and small enough float in the air will do so, Barron adds. “This includes bacteria, fungi and viruses, but also includes dust and allergens, such as peanuts and peanut butter.”
So, if you have a severe allergy to food, particularly peanuts, make sure you carry an epi-pen with you on board, in your carry on. While many airlines do not distribute peanuts for this reason, you cannot always count on your fellow passengers who sit very close to you and who might have a nut-containing cookie or energy bar with them, Barron adds.
You can never know what exactly is floating around in the air. Bad behaviors such as changing babies on the airline seats, coughing all over the airline magazines, not washing hands after using the restroom, urinating on the toilet seat, and picking noses are not as uncommon as you’d hope.
The following tips come from Barron and ParaDocs Worldwide Inc CEO and Founder Alex Pollak.